Category Archives: Vegetables

Wedding Food & Prayer Requests

It is 4:45 a.m. and my husband Joe just left for work. Sons Benjamin and Joseph left before that.

On Thursday I had to help with the wedding food prep at the home of neighbors Joas and Susan, for their daughter Carol. Sisters Verena, Emma, and I went together. My job was to help cut up the broccoli and cauliflower for the salad. We also cup up the potatoes for the dressing. Quite a few other women were there doing various jobs.

We regret that we couldn’t attend the wedding of Jacob and Margaret (cousin Esther’s daughter). We appreciated the invitation, and wish them a long and happy married life.

On Friday we attended Carol and Aden’s wedding. My job as cook was to help peel potatoes for mashed potatoes. The noon meal was very delicious and consisted of mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, grilled chicken, buttered noodles, green beans, broccoli/cauliflower salad, homemade bread, strawberry jam and butter, mixed fresh fruit, peanut butter and strawberry pies, angel food cake topped with strawberry glaze, and candy bars.

After the noon meal, we headed home to prepare for our trip to Kentucky. We started out later than we wanted, with waiting on everyone to get home from work. It was nice for our whole family and sister Verena to travel on a bus.

On Saturday we spent the day at Joe’s sister Salome and Morris’ house. It was a nice day! Not all of Joe’s siblings attended, but we had a good time visiting with those who came. The day went much too fast. The children enjoyed a water balloon fight, which cooled them off on that hot day.

We headed home for Michigan on Sunday around noon. It was good to get home safe and sound. Everyone was ready for bed early. We had a nice trip. Always thankful for God’s protecting hand.

Last night we had good attendance at my book signing at the Middlebury, Indiana library. Thanks so much to all the readers who came, gave encouragement, and bought books. Thanks also to the librarians for their hospitality. My friend Ruth again took time from her family to drive for us. Daughters Verena and Susan and grandchildren Jennifer and Ryan also attended. It was good for Susan to get out of the house and get her mind off everything. The readers there were very caring about her situation.

This afternoon I will go to daughter Susan’s house to help her get ready for all the help that is coming tonight. Our church is making a work night at her house to help her get caught up with whatever needs to be done. Supper is being brought in as well.

Foremost on our minds is brother-in-law Jacob. He was admitted to the hospital yesterday. He hasn’t been feeling well lately, so doctors are running tests to see what is going on. I talked to sister Emma last night after she came home from the hospital. Please keep Jacob in your prayers.

With everything that has happened in our family, it just makes me worry. But why worry if we can pray? That is sometimes easier said than done. God is a great help. Today six months ago was the accident of Dan and Mose. Jodi and Susan (their widows) are on my mind this morning. They need our continued prayers. God bless you all!

Green Beans

2 pounds fresh green beans, cut up
3 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bacon, cooked to the desired crispness and cut into small pieces
salt
black pepper
seasoning salt

Place the green beans in a large pot, cover with water, salt as desired, and cook until the green beans are tender. Drain. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until browned. Add the green beans and stir to coat. Continue to heat until the green beans are steaming hot. Add the cooked bacon, along with salt, pepper, and seasoning salt, and serve.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Secret Pal Revealing and Remembering Sister Susan

My husband Joe and I and son Kevin spent last weekend at daughter Susan’s house.

Our community sets up “secret pals” for widows, widowers, people with disabilities, etc. This means Susan has had a secret pal since December. Secret pals send gifts to their receiver for a year. Usually they go from May to May, and then they reveal themself. Last weekend, they had a secret pal revealing for this past year’s 30-plus secret pals. They said Susan could bring someone along to be with her, so she asked me if I would. Around 8:30 a.m., Susan and her children, Jennifer and Ryan, and I were picked up by an Amish driver, along with others, and taken to a family’s home. We were served a delicious meal that was prepared by all the secret pals. The menu consisted of barbeque chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, various salads, cheese, various pies, ice cream, coffee, and punch.

Before we ate, there was singing, guessing games, and door prizes. After we ate, we played bingo until the gifts were all gone. There were games for the children to win gifts, as well. Then the secret pals all revealed to their receiver who they were and gave them a final gift. It was very interesting. Bless the heart of the givers to send secret gifts to a person for a year. It can be hard for it to stay a secret at times. At 2:30 p.m., the drivers all came back to take us all home. Susan was the only widow in her 20s, reminding us of how early in life she lost her dear husband. God’s ways are not our ways, and someday we will understand why.

Joe and son Kevin did outside work for Susan while we were gone. Her garden was tilled, grass mowed, etc. We all stayed the night again on Saturday night. Then on Sunday we were all invited to daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house for a brunch in honor of Mother’s Day. On the menu was scrambled eggs, sausage patties, sausage gravy, biscuits, cheese, hot peppers, and grape juice.

The rest of the day we played games and visited. Then Tim grilled brats and hot dogs before we headed home. Our house felt cold, so sons Benjamin and Kevin came home to do the chores and start the coal stove. By the time we got home, it was much warmer in the house.

On Friday, sons Joseph and Kevin and nephew Steven were asked to go along on a fishing trip on Lake Erie to catch walleye fish. The group included Joseph’s boss, his son, and another boy, and all expenses were paid. They left here at 2 a.m. and came back by early evening. With Kevin and Steven having a handicap, this meant a lot to them to be able to go out on that big boat and catch their limit of walleyes. Joseph and Kevin came home with their walleyes filleted and bagged.

The family lit solar flowers “planted” in cowboy boots in memory of Sister Susan.

On Monday was dear sister Susan’s 45th birthday, so in memory of her we went to sister Verena’s house for the evening. Also there were daughters Verena, Susan and children, daughter Elizabeth, Tim and children, Dustin (Loretta’s special friend), sister Emma, Jacob and sons, Crystal (nephew Benjamin’s special friend), niece Elizabeth and Manuel, and niece Emma, Menno, and children. We all pitched in mowing Verena’s yard, weeding her flower beds, etc. My sister Susan had a collection of cowboy boots that she would plant flowers in every year. Since sister Verena isn’t able to keep the flowers watered, we put solar flowers in each boot in Susan’s memory. After dark it looked very nice with the flowers lit up and changing colors. We all took supper in.

Verena was so thankful for everyone’s help. Before we left for home, paper lanterns were flown in the air in memory of a dear sister/aunt. Rest in peace, dear sister. You are missed so much. Another person was deeply missed that night—dear son-in-law Mose. Daughter Susan misses him so much. May God help us through the heartaches. God bless!

Deep-Fried Morels

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
Olive oil for pan-frying
12 to 15 large morel mushrooms

Stir the flour, salt, milk, and egg together in a large bowl. Heat 1 inch of oil in a large skillet until sizzling. Dip the mushrooms in the batter and place in the skillet. Fry each side until golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Serves 6 to 8.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Gratitude for precious family time

It’s Tuesday evening. Supper is over and the dishes have been washed. Daughter Susan and children Jennifer, 3, and Ryan, 1, are staying here for three days. They are staining/finishing some trim and doors/door frames at her house, so the smell is a little strong and there are no doors on any room right now while they are being stained.

Tonight daughter Verena is spending the evening and overnight with Sister Verena. She is so good at putting others’ needs before her own. God will surely bless her someday.

Daughter Susan and Jennifer and daughter Loretta are sitting at the kitchen table. Loretta and Jennifer are coloring while Susan is writing. Susan keeps journals—one to Mose and one to God. Putting her thoughts on paper seems to be a healing process for her. She said even if Mose can’t read her journal it’s a way to feel connected to him.

Yesterday we did our laundry and hung it in the basement. We brought it up today to fold and put away. Susan brought her laundry and washed it today. It is hanging on the lines in the basement, now. Last week spoiled us with all the warm sunny weather. Hopefully this cold spell won’t last long.

Sunday night our family gathered at daughter Elizabeth and Tim’s house for supper. The menu was chicken and potatoes on the grill, with steamed cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots, cheese, and cupcakes. It was all delicious! It was a lovely evening for a buggy ride. Spending time with our family seems more precious since losing loved ones so dear to us. It makes us appreciate each other much more.

The weekend also moved our clocks an hour forward. Nights seem longer with more daylight. We see early signs of spring—robins, flowers peeping through—so we hope cold weather will soon be past for the season. This weekend the calendar says it’s officially spring.

Another blessing we have had is my husband Joe has a job at a metal shop now. This is his third week, and it seems to be going great. We are so thankful for all our blessings in the midst of our heartaches.

This is now 4:45 a.m. I didn’t get this column finished last night. Jennifer decided she wanted cream to give us all foot massages. She didn’t spare the cream which I think is what she likes about it. She tries to act like she’s a doctor and we are her patients. Earlier today she helped with dishes and folded laundry. When she heard us comment about it, she put her hands on her hips and tried to act like an adult. She was talking and would roll her eyes and make her voice sound different. Ryan walks behind her trying to mimic everything his big sister does. When they do cute things like that it makes Susan want to share it with Mose. There are so many milestones he is going to miss. God has a plan and a reason why he took Mose from his earthly home so soon. May he help guide the broken-hearted left behind to understand. God makes no mistakes!

God’s blessings to all!

Zucchini Crumble
6 cups zucchini, peeled and diced small
1/4 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Crumble topping
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick cook oatmeal
1/2 cup butter, cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine the diced zucchini with lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Pour into a 2-quart baking dish. In another bowl combine all the crumble top ingredients. Using your hands combine butter with dry ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle over top of zucchini mixture and press firmly. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes. It is good served warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available wherever books are sold. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Home renovations and harvest season continue

A busy time of the year—we are in the midst of canning season. We are filling lots of jars and freezers with a bountiful harvest. Many meals will be made from the harvest, the fruits of our labor. Do we appreciate enough what the Good Lord provides to us? We have so much to be thankful for yet so often take it for granted.

As harvest season continues, Lovina cooks tomatoes into juice, sauce, and more, to can and freeze for the cooler months. Photo provied.

Today daughters Verena, 22, and Lovina, 16, have appointments at the eye doctor. We decided to do some grocery shopping after the appointments. I also want to stop at the fabric store to buy material for Loretta’s baptismal suit. I have less than two weeks to get it cut out and sewn.

We are helping Mose and Susan work on their house every chance we get. They are ready for drywall in the bedroom and living room areas. The sub floor is down, and new windows and doors are in. They will go as far as they can until September 6th when they host baptismal services for three young souls who will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Nephew Jacob, daughter Loretta, 20, and another boy from our church district, Jeremiah, will all be baptized, Lord willing. How rewarding for parents to see their children take this step. Jacob and Loretta are both disabled, and Jeremiah has been so helpful during their instruction classes. The ministry and church members have been helpful and so full of encouragement as well. The support of a church makes our troubles and trials so much easier. Most of all, having faith in God helps us through the “bumps” on the road ahead.

Baptism services will be held under a big tent at Mose and Susan’s. Their goal is to at least have the living room/bedroom and bathroom livable before then so they can stay in one half of the house while finishing the other half. RV living is getting very old fast with a 1 and 2-year-old. Ryan seems like he’s turned loose when he comes to our house. He stands up, takes a few steps, and freezes up. He’s just not brave enough yet to keep walking. He will be 13 months tomorrow so there’s still time. He loves to crawl onto furniture and give us scares when he stands up smiling.

A reader read in a column I wrote that Jennifer, 2, loves putting stuff in little purses. How excited Jennifer was when she received a package of six little purses. Thank you, Carol from Wichita, KS, for making this little girl’s day and playing time for months. The blue one was her favorite. I am sure you will get a personal thank you from daughter Susan and little Jennifer, but I want to thank you for your kindness.

Son-in-law Mose was hurt at work yesterday cutting his finger and arm at the RV factory. He has 10 stitches in his finger and isn’t allowed to do too much for a few days.

This is so hard for him with all the work needing to be done on his house. Somehow it all works out and I told him he needs to slow down. They came here for the night last night and he had some pretty hard throbbing going on in his finger. I wish him a speedy recovery. Quite a few people are going to go help on the house Saturday and some help evenings. It is all appreciated by Mose and Susan. This project developed into more than they thought. Remodeling an old farmhouse can have lots of surprises and unplanned for work.

We helped daughter Elizabeth paint her kitchen which I think concludes her painting for now.

Yesterday we had four 5-gallon sized buckets of tomatoes to put into juice. A big job off the list, but we still have a table full of tomatoes that need to be canned into something. Undecided if I want to make more salsa, V-8, or pizza sauce.

God’s blessings to you all.

Garden Vegetable Medley

1/2 cup sliced onion
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup butter
2 pounds zucchini, julienned
3 medium tomatoes, cut in thin wedges
1 cup whole kernel corn

In a large skillet, sauté the onion, salt, pepper, and oregano in butter until onion is crisp-tender. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and corn. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes. Yield: 6 servings.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

 

August brings cooler mornings and wedding feasts

Friday, August 14th is daughter Elizabeth and Timothy’s 5th anniversary. Happy anniversary to them and wishing them many more happy healthy years together. May God continue to be their guide! They have three children: Abigail, who will turn 4 on September 10, Timothy (T.J.), 1 1/2 years, and baby Allison, 7 months. So very precious to us! Allison is so petite but so full of energy! T.J. can climb over their barn gates already so it’s a constant job watching that little guy. He gives the biggest smiles though and looks so sweet and innocent.

Yesterday daughter Susan and her children, daughters Verena, Loretta, Lovina, son Kevin, and I spent the day at Elizabeth and Tim’s house painting their walls and ceiling. Tim is remodeling their house, so it is time to paint and get the trim back on. He is also making a few closets for more storage space. It really looks good and has more space. They had three bedrooms on the main level, but they tore the walls out on one bedroom, adding more room to the dining room and living room. They left it open concept with a beam going through the center for support. It really does look so much nicer. Tim’s nephew has been staying at their house the last few weeks helping Tim with staining and laying new flooring. He is also helping Tim build a wall in their garage so they can heat that side in the winter where they have their solar batteries and their phone. It will also be nice space to cut up pork and beef when they do their meat butchering in the cold months.

Speaking of cold – we are having some pretty cool mornings for August. Some mornings it went down to almost 50 degrees. That seems warm in the winter but at this time of the year it makes you close a few of the windows. My husband Joe loves it when it cools off at night. I think it’s a challenge with the little children not knowing how to dress them, especially when it reaches over 80 by nighttime. We need to accept the weather however God sends it.

August yields plenty of vegetables, including zucchini for making the fritter recipe Lovina shares in this week’s column. Photo provided.

The wedding day of niece Laura and Enos was a pleasant day with not too much of a warm day. I would say it was just perfect weather

August yields plenty of vegetables, including zucchini for making the fritter recipe Lovina shares in this week’s column. Photo provided.

for a wedding.

I of course finished my dress the afternoon before the wedding (late as usual). I was a cook and we were asked to wear a dark green color. Daughter Verena wore aqua blue and was a table waiter.

The menu was broasted chicken (made in the kettle outside), mashed potatoes (which in this area are still all mashed by hand, and then with our wedding cook wagons, powered by a generator, there are usually electric mixers to whip the potatoes for our weddings), gravy, chicken and noodles, dressing, mixed vegetables, broccoli/cauliflower salad, homemade bread, and apple cinnamon butter. Dessert was tapioca pudding, angel food cake, fresh mixed fruit, and rhubarb, cherry, pecan, and peanut butter pies. For the evening meal it was the same menu except there were sausage links instead of chicken, although the leftover chicken was used until it was gone. My job was to help make the broccoli salad.

I am sure it was a lonely day for my sister-in-law Nancy to not have brother Amos there to go ahead with the hosting of the wedding. He was greatly missed by many and I still feel like I should see him when I go to his place.

We arrived back home from the wedding around 10 p.m. It’s always good to be back home again after a long day!

God’s blessings to all!

Zucchini Fritters
1 pound zucchini, unpeeled and grated
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh chives
1 cup buttermilk pancake mix
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine first seven ingredients, stirring well. Drop mixture by tablespoons into oil which has been preheated to 375 degrees. Cook until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Yields about 1 dozen fritters.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Late summer harvest and wedding celebrations 

 Four years ago, on August 5, we were busy hosting daughter Susan and Mose’s wedding. Happy Anniversary Mose and Susan. We wish them many more happy and healthy years together with God as their guide. They have been blessed with two wonderful sweet children, Jennifer, 2 1/2, and Ryan, 12 months. Those two little ones keep Susan busy. She had some anxious moments yesterday when she went out to get the mail and came back and Jennifer had locked her out. Susan said she tried to explain to her how to unlock the door, but Jennifer couldn’t figure it out. Finally, Susan managed to get in through a window. I’m sure she was relieved once she was inside with those two little ones on the loose. Susan said she has learned to never leave for just a minute without a key.

A wagon full of sweet onions from Lovina’s garden.
Photo provided.

Tomorrow is the wedding for niece Laura and Enos in Berne, Indiana. Our driver will be here at 5:30 a.m. then we will pick up sisters Verena and Susan, sister Emma and Jacob, their son Benjamin, and his special friend Crystal. I’m not sure if anyone else from their family is going along. Daughter Verena is the only one from our children going as she is a table waiter at the wedding. I was asked to help cook.

Tonight, our church is invited to neighbors Joas and Susan for their annual fish supper. Joas loves to fish and every year they have the church over for a fish supper. I will take a dessert. I’m not sure yet what kind of dessert but the girls will make it. I am still sewing on my dress for the wedding tomorrow. I want to finish it this morning. It has just been so busy lately that it was hard to find time to sew.

Homegrown onions hung up to dry for the months to come.
Photo provided.

Yesterday I told daughter Elizabeth to come over and bring her laundry so we can help her wash it. Her son T.J., 1 1/2, and baby Allison, 7 months, have had ear infections, so they were fussy lately. It can be frustrating for a mother to care for her children and see there is work waiting to be done. How well I remember those times and how much it meant for my mother and sisters to help me out with the work.

Elizabeth’s laundry was folded and ready to put away when she arrived back home. She acted so relaxed to have that job off her list for now, which of course will be back on her list later this week. We know how much laundry three young children can make. Oh, but they are worth every minute of our time. Allison is standing by furniture and crawling all over. She is so petite and it is hard to believe how little but mighty she is. She has bright blue eyes (same as her father) and always such a big smile. Abigail, 3, and T.J. love to play hide and seek with son Kevin. They enjoy when he takes time to entertain them. Kevin spends a lot of time with our border collie dog Buddy, so when Kevin hides from the children Buddy always gives it away because he’ll go to wherever Kevin is.

Kevin, 15, and daughter Lovina, 16, picked the green beans this week. We are also still enjoying sweet corn. Kevin helped me pull the sweet onions and tie them up to dry by the walk out of our basement. We had a very nice crop of sweet onions. They taste so good with no hot flavor at all. I think these are almost the biggest onions we have grown. My husband Joe put plastic down around them this year.

I have new glasses and Joe has glasses for the first time now, too. It is taking him some getting used to bifocals. I don’t like mine, but you need them to read.

God’s blessings to all.

Zucchini Casserole

1 pound ground beef
4 cups sliced zucchini
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1 onion, chopped
salt and pepper

Cook zucchini in 2 cups boiling water until tender. Brown beef and onion. Mix all ingredients. Pour into casserole. Dot with butter and cover with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

July birthdays and zucchini bars

It’s Wednesday morning and the humidity has gone, leaving us with a much cooler morning. We had a light shower this morning, which we needed. Our hay was out last night, and hopefully the rain didn’t affect it too much.

It seems quiet around here this morning, with Mose, Susan, Jennifer, and Ryan not staying here anymore. They are living in a travel trailer (RV) at their place so that Mose can work evenings on their house. They have a gas stove and refrigerator and running water in there so they can shower, etc. They also have part of their garage set up that they can stay in during the day. Susan is still washing her laundry here because she doesn’t have water hooked up in their garage. Yesterday we washed our clothes and filled the lines and then we washed her clothes. By that time a lot of our clothes were dry so we could make space for hers.

Grandson Ryan’s first birthday cake. Photo provided.

On Monday, July 27th grandson Ryan turned a year old. They had his birthday party here at our house because there is more room. They gave Ryan a small cake to eat and did he have fun! He smashed the frosting up in his mouth. It was so cute. We sang Happy Birthday and he smiled and knew he was getting all the attention. Ryan isn’t walking yet, although he stands by himself for a little while and tried to take a few steps. He walks by furniture, and it doesn’t take him long to climb steps although we don’t let him do it without us watching him. Ryan now shares his birthdate with niece Emma and Menno’s newborn son. Menno Ray was born at 12:05 p.m. on July 27th. He joins a sister Jessica Rose, 18 months. Menno Ray also has a cousin, Austin, who turned two on July 27th. Austin’s parents, Benji and Margaret, live at the next place over from Menno and Emma and are in our church district. So three little boys all share the same day, all a year apart.

Ryan loves his Grandpa Joe. He will crawl for him, laughing when he sees him. If I want to take him away from Joe, he turns toward Joe.

Last week my daughter Elizabeth and baby Allison, daughter Susan and Ryan, and son Kevin and I went to niece Elizabeth’s to assist her in cleaning. Manuel and Elizabeth will host church services for the first time on Sunday. They live in a neighboring church district and are still renting the house they live in. Grandchildren Abigail, Jennifer, and T.J. stayed here with my other daughters so that we were able to get more done at Elizabeth’s house. Sister Emma and Steven, and niece Emma and Jessica were also there for the day. Walls, ceilings, furniture, and windows were cleaned. Many hands make lighter work!

I have cucumbers from the garden and want to can pickles this week if time allows.

I also have dark green material to sew a dress for myself for niece Laura’s wedding next week, again, only if time allows. Son Kevin and I pulled the sweet onions from our garden. Now we need to tie them up to dry under the porch by the walk-out basement.

The girls and I made supper for four families in our church who have had new babies or surgeries. Now the girls are ready to go deliver them. We made meat loaf, potato casserole, and zucchini bars, which are easy to make and use up zucchini. Our daughter Elizabeth and Tim are keeping us well supplied.

Take care, stay healthy, and God bless!

Zucchini bars for church families. Photo provided.

Zucchini Bars
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
2 teaspoons soda

Combine all ingredients and bake in a cookie sheet pan at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting or sprinkle with chocolate chips when almost done baking.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup margarine
2 cups powdered sugar
Beat well until mixture is smooth.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Hot summer days and extended family gatherings

 It’s another hot day with high humidity here in Michigan. Every day the temperature has been in the 90’s. Yesterday afternoon we did get a much-needed rain shower. We would have needed to start watering the garden, so the rain was much appreciated. Because our house is surrounded by shade trees and a wraparound porch, we don’t get too much sun shining in our windows. Our living room, dining room, and kitchen are all open concept, so the breeze flows through really nicely.

Tomorrow, niece Elizabeth is surprising her mom (my sister Emma) for her forty-seventh birthday, which will be on July 19. She has invited Emma’s sisters, sister-in-laws, and some nieces for the birthday surprise. Elizabeth will serve lunch to all of us, and we are each taking a dish. I do hope we will surprise Emma. It is always fun to get together with siblings and family.

On Saturday, July 11, our whole family has plans to travel to Monroe, IN, to attend the annual Ben and Elizabeth Coblentz family gathering at my oldest sister Leah and Paul’s house. I have lost count of how many members are in the family. Nephew Paul Jr. is making a family record book with the birth and marriage dates for all my siblings and their children and grandchildren. It will be interesting and make it easy to look up everyone.

Our whole family, Jacob and sister Emma’s family, and my sisters Verena and Susan are renting a bus to take us to the gathering. It will be fun to all travel together and I can only imagine it will be pretty loud on the bus.

Son Benjamin and son-in-law Mose are back to work now after having a week off from the factory. Production is still picking up so hopefully my husband Joe will get called back soon. While they were off, they were working on Mose and Susan’s house quite often.

Joe and I didn’t do anything special over the fourth of July weekend, but most of our children went camping with friends. It was a quiet weekend but that didn’t bother me. I hope everyone had a safe holiday. It is only through Jesus Christ that we have true freedom from the bondage of sin, through His sacrifice on the cross! God bless America! Let us be thankful for the freedom we still have. Prayers are needed so much in our world that is so full of sin and hatred. In God we trust!

Son Joseph didn’t have to work today, so my husband Joe and he are getting a lot accomplished outside. Daughter Lovina made lemonade and I made iced tea to drink on these hot days. Rhubarb juice is another thirst quencher on these hot days.

I am receiving quite a few letters from readers requesting the recipe for rhubarb juice. I shared it in my column on May 11, and it is also included in my cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook. My friend Ruth brought my reader mail from Illinois, and I want to try and answer those letters. I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement.

Granddaughter Jennifer, 2 1/2, and grandson Ryan, 11 months, are sitting on the steps of the stairway singing. Jennifer has her doll in her hand and her little diaper bag beside her. She loves purses or any small bags. She fills them with toys or whatever she finds. When we are missing something, we look in Jennifer’s purse. Smile! Such precious angels! God bless!

 

Yellow Squash Dish
4 cups yellow squash, cut up
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, cut up
4-5 slices American or Velveeta cheese
1-2 Tbsp. bacon grease
Salt and pepper

Cook squash, onion, and tomatoes in bacon grease. Cook until most of liquid is cooked out. Pour into a serving bowl. Lay cheese slices on top and cover. Let sit until cheese melts and serve.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

July birthdays, family reunions, and tomato gravy

It’s July 1—today we enter the month of July, and 2020 is already halfway over. It has been quite a year to remember. I do not think many of us want to repeat such a year. When I see people in town shopping with masks on, what I miss the most is not being able to see a smile on a stranger’s face as I pass by, say “hi,” and smile. It’s hard to tell if other people are smiling or frowning under a mask. I will be so glad when life is all back to normal. It has been such a tiring year. My husband Joe is still laid off from the factory but stays busy helping son-in-law Mose with remodeling. Mose and son Benjamin are on vacation this week, so they are working over at the house every day this week so far. The dusty work is done now, and they should be ready to start framing the new walls soon. A lot of the family have plans over the July 4 holiday, so not much will get done there this weekend.

Today is our fifth child Loretta’s twentieth birthday. It is 5:30 a.m. as I write this, so she is still in bed and I haven’t told her happy birthday yet. Can it be possible that twenty years have passed since her birth? In two weeks, on July 14, son Benjamin will turn twenty-one. On July 24 son Joseph will be eighteen, and on July 27 grandson Ryan will be a year old. Joe and I will have been married for twenty-seven years on July 15. Brother Albert, who shares his birthday with two sons and a daughter-in-law, will be fifty-six on July 15. Sister Emma will be forty-seven on July 19. Emma’s youngest son Steven’s birthday is on July 30, and brother-in-law Paul’s is on July 31. July 18 was my dear mother’s birthday. In July we have lots of cake for everyone, but I sometimes just make one cake for all three of our children because we get tired of cake if we have it too often.

On July 11, my oldest sister Leah and Paul are hosting my family’s annual gathering. The siblings take turns hosting each year. My sisters Verena and Susan take their turn together, so each sibling hosts once every seven years. A lot of changes happen in those seven years, and also quite an increase in family members. After our parents both passed, we decided to start taking turns so that at least once a year we can all get together. The sibling hosting the gathering furnishes the hot food and everyone else brings a dish or two and a snack for the afternoon. We end up with a variety of food and more than enough.

In September, it will be eighteen years since dear Mother’s sudden death, and it was twenty years in May that my dear dad passed. Precious memories how they linger. Brother Amos will be greatly missed too.

My dad’s side of the family, the Coblentz’s, had chosen July 11 for their reunion date this year. Due to the virus and family coming from so many different states, they decided to cancel it. This is probably the first time ever that they have cancelled, but it’s the first time for a lot of cancellations this year, such as church, school, and weddings. It will be a year everyone will always remember.

Daughter Elizabeth is planning to come to our house today. She needs new dresses so I told her to bring her material and we will try to help her get something sewed. With three little ones, she keeps busy. Elizabeth and her husband Tim painted a bedroom and put new flooring down. Three-year-old Abigail helped her Daddy paint. Elizabeth said she did a pretty good job and it kept her entertained. Tim painted over it afterwards, but it is so good to invest time in the sweet, innocent little ones. They will always remember something like that.

Stay healthy, stay safe, trust in God. May He bless each of you!

 

Tomatoes from the Eicher family garden.

A reader requested a tomato gravy recipe. I’ll share my sister Liz’s recipe.

Tomato Gravy
1 quart of tomato juice
salt
pepper
3 cups of milk, divided
brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour

In two-quart pan, bring tomato juice to a boil; add salt, pepper, and brown sugar to taste. Add 2 cups of milk all at once and heat. Do not let the tomato juice and milk mixture boil, as it may curdle. Separately, mix flour with enough of the remaining 1 cup of milk to make gravy. When tomato juice and milk mixture is hot, but not boiling, add gravy mixture and stir constantly until it boils.

 

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, Amish Family Recipes, is available now from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email  LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.

Sewing, doctor’s appointments, and sweet and sour cabbage

Greetings from Michigan! Son Kevin just left for school. The sky is starting to lighten up. Thermometer is at the 59-degree mark.

Son Joseph left for work at 4:30 a.m. My husband Joe is fishing with a few other men from our church. I think fishing is one of his biggest stress relievers. It will be good to have fish in the freezer again.

Tuesday was a nice day for the wedding of nephew Marvin and Lori. Next week is Joe’s nephew Morris and Annie’s wedding in Kentucky. Annie is a daughter of my cousin Dave. Dave’s father Chris was my mother’s only brother, and our families were always together growing up. My sisters Verena and Susan are also invited, so plans are that they also go with our family.

Tuesday was also the funeral of son-in-law Mose’s 89-year-old grandmother Marie. Our sympathy to the family.

Our thoughts and prayers also go to the family in Vermontville, Michigan that lost their three children in an accident on the way home from school. I cannot imagine the sorrow this family is experiencing in losing a 13-year-old son and 10- and 8-year-old daughters. Their 6-year-old son was hurt and taken to the hospital. May God provide strength for this family to cope with the terrible loss. God makes no mistakes but it is our human nature to question why. God be with them!

Nephew Steven (son of sister Emma and Jacob), age 12, is having surgery today at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor. It’s the same surgery son Kevin had, but Steven is getting both feet done at the same time. Daughter Loretta was 12 when she had the same surgery on both feet. Steven has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 2A also. We wish him a complete and speedy recovery! We have had three children have this kind of surgery done and it did help. Dr. Caird is also Steven’s surgeon, so he will have the best of care. When Steven was a baby, he had heart surgery at the same hospital, but Mott has a new hospital since then.

Son Benjamin, 20, is off work this week from the RV factory. They aren’t having production this week. Sure hope work picks up in the future.

Benjamin is doing a lot of jobs around home. He is getting our buggies repaired and has some of the wheels off and has taken them over to the buggy shop.

Son Kevin has an appointment at the doctor today and I’m not sure if a buggy will be ready to take us. Looks like our pony Stormy and the pony cruiser will have to do the job for Kevin and me. Our doctor’s office is on the outskirts of town so we won’t have more than five miles to travel.

I sewed a few shirts and a dress yesterday. Today I want to cut out and sew more shirts. The boys are low in good shirts and they never get new shirts for weddings so I thought I’ll sew for them this time.

Grapes are also ready at the U-pick but will be better picking next week, so I hope we can go pick some before we leave for Kentucky.

Benjamin picked our tomatoes and I sent them home with sister Emma and Jacob. Their tomatoes didn’t do so well. I am done with tomatoes this year except for fresh eating. I will be glad once the grape juice is done.

Last week I answered a question from a reader but the question was left out so it might have been confusing to you. The question was: what kind of gifts are given at weddings (to the bride and groom)? The answer was tools, Tupperware, towels, dishes, kitchen items, bedding or anything useful. I have also seen folding tables, chairs, grills, etc., given. There is much more, but most gifts are to help the couple start their own home and yes, sometimes they get multiples of something, but those can be given to someone else as a gift if not needed.

Space is running out so until next week—God bless!

 

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

 1 medium head cabbage

Syrup:
3 cups water
2–3 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons bacon grease

 

Coarsely shred or chop cabbage.

Mix syrup ingredients in a cook pot and bring to a boil. Add chopped cabbage, turn heat down to simmer and cook 20–30 minutes or until tender. Variation: Try purple cabbage.

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, Old Order Amish writer, cook, wife, and mother of eight. Her newest cookbook, The Essential Amish Cookbook, is available from the publisher, Herald Press, 800-245-7894. Readers can write to Eicher at PO Box 1689, South Holland, IL 60473 (please include a self-addressed stamped envelope for a reply); or email LovinasAmishKitchen@MennoMedia.org and your message will be passed on to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.